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Medical cannabis can provide significant relief to animals in pain. Safe and effective use of cannabis requires an understanding how to administer the correct amounts of two important compounds found in the plant, THC and CBD (the various compounds that make up the cannabis plant are generally called "cannabinoids".)  

When using cannabis as medicine for pets, the first thing to remember is that any significant side effects are unacceptable.


Following are guidelines for dosing THC and CBD in cats and dogs.

Always consult with your veterinarian before beginning cannabis therapy for your pet.

Higher doses may be possible/necessary on a case-dependent basis.  Monitor closely for sedation, loss of balance, or loss of mental acuity.  Decrease the dose or discontinue immediately if any side effects are seen.

CBD Dosing

0.5 – 5 mg CBD per 10 pounds of body weight twice daily.

Start low and slowly increase the dose every 4-7 days.

Frequently doses nearer the lower end of the range are effective.  Higher doses of CBD may be beneficial in certain circumstances.  Decrease the dose or discontinue immediately if any side effects are seen.

Nothing is more important than the safety of your pet, so don’t make guesses or assume anything about the content or dosing of cannabis medicines.

When considering cannabis for the treatment of pain and inflammation, it is important to understand how various cannabinoids may affect your pet.

The Entourage Effect: The synergistic benefit of whole plant cannabis related to the quantity and distribution of major and minor cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. These factors affect the degree of biological activity and the spectrum of diseases treated.  The use of the appropriate ratio of THC and CBD as well as dosage are critical to success.Consider other medications being given concurrently with respect to possible drug interactions.

Always consult with your veterinarian before beginning any new medication or supplement for your pet.

Ratios of THC to CBD frequently range from as high as 20:1, to even ratios (1:1), to 1:20.  The decision of which product or ratio to use for a pet with pain/inflammation often depends on the severity of the pain and its origin. The following is a guide to choosing ratios for treating pain and inflammation in animals.

High CBD or Hemp-Based CBD 4:1 to 20:1 CBD-to-THC or, in the case of hemp, little to no THC:

Mild to moderate pain such as arthritis and back pain.

Even Ratio1:1 CBD to THC:

Moderate pain such as arthritis and back pain

High THC Ratios 4:1 to 20:1 THC-to-CBD:

Severe pain such as cancer pain, nerve pain, and advanced arthritis

Getting your dog or cat stoned is never OK, even with medical cannabis. The goal with cannabis therapy in pets is to relieve the symptom being treated with no other side effects. Their normal patterns of behavior should be unaltered after receiving the therapy.

Medical cannabis for pets is often sold as liquid oil or as treats. Liquids allow for more accurate dosing and can be better absorbed by the tissues of the mouth before entering the rest of the digestive tract.

Vaporized or burned cannabis should NEVER be used with pets.  Similarly, edibles made for humans are impossible to dose accurately for pet and may contain ingredients (such as raisins, processed chocolate, etc.) known to be toxic to animals. A word about THC Dosing:  *0.2 – 0.6 mg THC per 10 pounds of body weight twice daily

A number of surveys have asked doctors what they know about cannabis and how comfortable they feel talking with patients about it. A similar survey was recently conducted about CBD and dogs among over 2000 veterinarians in the United States. Less than half of vets were comfortable talking to clients about CBD for pets. Among this group, vets were most comfortable recommending CBD for pain management, anxiety, and seizures in dogs. Young vets were much less likely to talk with clients about CBD or cannabis. Among those who had experience treating pets with CBD, the vast majority (~80%) did not feel that state veterinary organizations provide enough guidance on how to abide by state or federal laws. A similar proportion believed that from a moral and medical perspective, CBD should be allowed for pets. Only 16% of them supported the schedule 1 status of cannabis, and even fewer thought that CBD should remain a schedule 1 drug.

The endocannabinoid system has been found to be pervasive in mammalian species. It has also been described in invertebrate species as primitive as the Hydra. Insects, apparently, are devoid of this, otherwise, ubiquitous system that provides homeostatic balance to the nervous and immune systems, as well as many other organ systems. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) has been defined to consist of three parts, which include (1) endogenous ligands, (2) G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs), and (3) enzymes to degrade and recycle the ligands. Two endogenous molecules have been identified as ligands in the ECS to date.

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